General Plan Needs Work | Local Experts Send Detailed Response to City Officials

Mark Gallatin, President of the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation and former city planner, crafts detailed response backed by the 50-year organization keeping watch over the city

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | Mark Gallatin, President for SPPF, at a Cultural Heritage Commission meeting for South Pasadena

The ever-vigilant South Pasadena Preservation Foundation has filed comments on the city’s update to its General Plan, offering both corrections and advice to broaden the comprehensiveness of the plan’s framework.

Although Wednesday, February 12, was the final day to file comments on the update to the General Plan, in practice there will be additional opportunities at Planning Commission sessions and during the environmental review.

The SPPF, in a letter, noted the draft incorrectly placed the San Gabriel Mission as a few miles west of South Pasadena when in fact it is a few miles east.

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( It is also notable that the Mission in the City of San Gabriel is itself northwest of the original 1771 location of the Mission, which was along the Rio Hondo River north of Whittier Narrows.)

The SPPF also pointed out that the Plan incorrectly described the portion of the Indiana Colony South Pasadena incorporated in 1888 included land “eastward” toward the Los Angeles city border, when in fact it was westward.

According to the aforementioned letter, the draft also has a table stating there are 53 locally designated landmarks in town when in fact there are 55. It also points out there are 20 properties that have been granted Mills Act preservation contracts for property tax reductions, not 12 as stated in the plan.

SPPF also recommended that a list of programs that provide historical structures with rehabilitation and maintenance assistance include the State Historic Tax Credits recently approved by the Legislature authoring a 20 percent state income tax credit.

Finally, the Foundation pointed to the Plan’s reliance on Google Maps for landmarks and properties on the Inventory of Historical Resources. It said while the Google Maps on the City’s website are better than none at all, the city ought not restrict itself to one proprietary mapping system.

Joanna Hankamer, the city planning and community development director, told the South Pasadenan News that while public comment on the General Plan is now closed, the city’s Planning Commission will hold updates on the development standards and signage components of the plan through May. Comments, especially those in writing, offered at those meetings will be assessed along with those filed by the Feb. 12 deadline. The commission meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30 pm and has committed to hold General Plan sessions as its first agenda item.

In addition, the General Plan Update will be subject to an environmental review, which will afford citizens another formal opportunity to provide comment. The update to the General Plan won’t be finalized until late this year or early next, Hankamer said.


Ben Tansey is a journalist and author. He grew up in the South Bay and is a graduate of Evergreen State College. He worked in Washington State as a reporter in a rural timber community and for many years as an editor for a Western electric energy policy publication based in Seattle.